Guest Post: So why is it taking so long? The 5p’s that slow down decision making. – by Ken Valledy

ken valledy postThis is a guest post by Ken Valledy, founder of Tech2Brand (t2b), and Seedcamp mentor. After 10+ years at Anheuser-Busch Inbev working in various marketing roles including UK Brand Director for Beck’s Beer and Consumer Digital Director for Western Europe, Ken broke off to start his own gig in January 2014 with t2b. His business merges his passion of brand marketing and digital innovation. Now, having the perspective of both sides of the table – big brand and entrepreneur – Ken shares some of his insights on working with big brands. 

A common question I am asked from start-ups is on the subject of how long things seem to take, from the initial meeting with a Marketing Manager, to actually getting something into the marketplace? Everything seems to take so long?

So what is getting in the way? Well, to be honest, ‘process’ is getting in the way and unfortunately, in most cases this process has to be adhered to. Please find below the 5 ‘P’s that slow down the brand decision making process in big businesses:

Procrastination – Ok, let’s start at the beginning. Even if your meeting went well and the Marketing Manager was very impressed, he or she can still change their mind (this is allowed). They can still have second thoughts and ultimately can become undecided. To add ‘salt to the wound’ other urgent projects can also come into play that relegate your product into the ‘nice to have’ (rarely re-opened) box. So even if the first meeting went well, a ‘change of mind or a change of circumstances’ can mean that your product will ‘fall’ at this first hurdle.

Politics – Even if the Marketing Manager is very keen to work with your product, he/she still has to align their decision with certain colleagues (ie. the Marketing Director, the Innovations Director). There is always someone you need to influence and as a result there is always someone who can propose a good reason why this project shouldn’t go ahead at the moment. The P of Politics is the biggest ‘time sapper’ of them all. It really depends on how determined the respective Marketing Manager is to push your product through the system.

Procurement – now your idea is approved, your costings will now come under scrutiny from the Procurement team. Their role is to ensure that the company gets the best deal from their suppliers. They are not a charity and they are usually a long way from the world of ‘start-ups’ and small businesses. Depending on the size of your budget, dealings with procurement can be anything from a couple of emails to numerous emails and phone calls lasting many weeks!

Purchase Orders – assuming your company is already on the brand’s supplier system (if not add 1-2 weeks for this to happen) a Purchase Order has to be raised before you can technically begin work. This isn’t the most exciting task and is usually left to the end of the day / week – again, this puts time into the process.

Payment Terms – the final ‘P’ to be aware of is ‘Payment Terms’. This is the time the brand will take to pay you from receipt of your invoice. This can go from anything from 20 days to 120 days – this not only puts time on you getting paid but can obviously have a serious impact on your cash flow position – it is worth discussing this with your Marketing Manager sooner rather than later.

So there you have it. This isn’t a post to scare you from working with big brands, it is just a ‘heads up’ to the world of ‘big business’. Most proposals fail at the first ‘P’ (Procrastination) and even if you get past this there is still a few more hurdles to get over before you start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Also, please note that ‘Marketing Managers’ get frustrated by the process as well, but they know that it has to be followed for anything to happen. Hopefully, the end result will have been worth the wait, but to get there requires lots of PATIENCE (sorry another P) on both sides!

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